India’s Nirbhay Cruise Missile Test Failed Again

Another test of the Nirbhay land-attack cruise missile, designed to carry nuclear warheads to a strike range of 1,000-km, failed on Wednesday. This was the subsonic missile’s fourth test since March 2013, all of which have more or less failed to achieve test parameters.

The missile had to be destroyed in mid-air after it deviated from its flight-path along the coast in Bay of Bengal soon after launch from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore off the Odisha coast around noon on Wednesday. “The test was an utter failure, with the missile veering to the right within two minutes of take-off,” said a source.

DRDO may have come a long way in developing ballistic missiles like the Agni series, which have strike ranges from 700-km to over 5,000-km, but continues to flounder in the field of cruise missiles.

The armed forces, of course, already have the supersonic BrahMos cruise missiles developed with the help of Russia, but they have a range of only 290-km as of now and carry only conventional warheads.

This test of the three-stage Agni-V, after which it will undergo user-trials by the Strategic Forces Command, is planned for end-December or early-January, as was first reported by TOI.

While ballistic missiles like the Agni follow a parabolic trajectory, cruise missiles like Nirbhay are designed to fly at low-altitudes, virtually hugging the terrain, to evade enemy radars and missile defence systems.